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In an effort to create the clearest representation of your musical intentions, LAFCI has compiled a

listing of recommendations to address best practices, industry standards and professional


expectations for score and part formatting in the recording studio environment. These
recommendations are designed to help your sessions run as smoothly as possible by ensuring your
parts are clear, easy to read and meet the standards expected in the professional world. Although
there may be personal preferences or experiences that differ slightly or significantly from these
recommendations, we encourage you to use this list as a set of foundational best practices and
industry expectations as you prepare your music for recording.

If you choose not to format your music yourself, there are many great copy houses in the Los
Angeles area that will produce a professional end product following these same recommendations,
ensuring your parts are functional and designed to serve the needs and expectations of the musician
to perform your music correctly the first time. There are nuances a professional copyist with years
of experience can, and should, bring to your music as they focus exclusively on ensuring your parts
meet the highest standards.

In an environment where the clock is always on and time is precious, the ability to offer parts that
clearly indicate your musical intentions will not only be greatly appreciated by the performers as a
sign of respect and professionalism, but will also save time, money and allow the focus to remain
on the recording itself.

We hope you find these recommendations useful as you prepare your music for recording.

-LAFCI
November 2017

••• LAFCI Recommendations for Professional Studio Part/Score Formatting •••

Studio Orchestra Style

Part
• Printed on 9”x12” 80 pound (32 pound bond) natural/cream/ivory colored paper
• Taped “accordion style” with bookbinding tape or equivalent to alleviate audible page turns as much
as possible
• Every instrument has a part (1 per stand for strings) even if it reads “Tacet”, this clarifies to the
performer there is no part for that instrument on that particular cue
• Page numbers are clearly indicated beginning with page 2 and located on the top right corner of each
page
• Only 1 player per part – no multiple players on a page as a general rule
Exceptions:
o Horns 1&2 are listed on separate parts, not one part
o Violins 1&2 are on the same part and empty staves should be optimized out – this allows all
violins to see both parts and provides the composer the option to quickly rebalance parts if
desired, i.e. Violin 1 has the melody and more performers are needed to make that part
more dominant
o Percussion is either written as a master part with all percussion parts listed by instrument
(although timpani is written as its own part), or as thoughtfully choreographed parts in
“stations”, i.e. Percussion 1 (snare drum, tambourine), Percussion 2 (bass drum, suspended
cymbal, triangle), Percussion 3 (glockenspiel, xylophone) – either are ok but be consistent
in which you utilize
• Percussion & strings are the only parts where staves can be optimized out
• Average number of staves per page is 8 on first page and 10 on subsequent pages
• Transposed but without key signatures; accidentals only
• Clearly indicate which instruments will be played on a part by listing under the instrument name
label in the upper left corner of the part
• Bar numbers are indicated on every bar and located below the staff and out of the way of musical
notation
• “Page Turns” can be helpful if the bottom of the part ends in at least 1 measure of rest, providing
time to turn the page without the performer having to decide which notes not to play so as to not
miss the notes on the following page – this is not always possible, especially in very busy string
parts, but a reasonable attempt is expected
• Use ledger lines – ensure you are using appropriate clefs (i.e. Bass Clarinet in Bb is notated in treble
clef) and avoid 8va, 8vb, etc.
• Dynamics are indicated below the staff
• Articulations are indicated outside the staff
• Keep accidentals consistent and within musical context
Example:
o Correct Bb Major scale: Bb-C-D-Eb-F-G-A-Bb versus incorrect Bb-C-D-D#-E#-G-A-Bb
• Courtesy accidentals are required
Example:
o A note has a C sharp in one bar followed by a C natural in the subsequent bar, a courtesy
accidental is required to clearly reiterate the C natural in the next bar

Part – cont’d.

• Any change as to how the instrument is “normally” played, i.e. using mutes, must be clearly labeled
before they occur and when they return to normal
• Avoid notation or text “crashing”
Examples:
o Bar numbers are not overlapping with other printed information
o “sim.” is not bumping into the staff or is too far from the relevant note(s)
• Single odd meter bars with rests, not within a consolidated rest, should show the way the bar will be
conducted
Examples:
o in 5/4, clarify with rests if the rhythmic division is 2+3 or 3+2
o in 7/8, clarify with rests if the rhythmic division is 2+2+3 or 3+2+2
• In studio music, “cues” are typically not used to indicate the entrance of another instrument, rather
they are used to denote an option the composer may want to be played on that part – it is not played
if not asked for
• Rehearsal letters are not utilized since bar numbers are already clearly marked
• Multiple measure rests should be used in small and digestible sizes (i.e. 4 measures, 8 measures, etc.) to
keep counting easy and clear, as well to be an easily amendable document should it be necessary for the
performer to write in changes

Score
• Printed on 11”x17” 80 pound (32 pound bond) natural/cream/ivory colored paper
• Taped “accordion style” with bookbinding tape or equivalent to alleviate audible page turns as much
as possible
• The first two pages of a cue open up as a book with page 1 on the left and page 2 on the right – this
allows the conductor to not need to make page turns immediately upon starting
• Written in “Concert” pitch (a.k.a. ‘Score in C’); no key signatures used, only accidentals
• Oversized time signatures are preferred for quick and easy reference-typically located in three
places: top, middle and bottom of the score page and reiterated just before a page turn if a new time
signature is utilized immediately on the following page
• Measure numbers are indicated on each bar (centered and large font), either between the bottom two
instrument families (i.e. between percussion and string families) or at the very bottom of the last
instrument family (i.e. beneath the double bass line of the string instrument family)
• Rehearsal letters are not utilized since bar numbers are already clearly marked
• Do not use multiple measure rests – show each measure
• Any global information on the score must also be on the parts, such as tempi, double bar lines,
repeats, rit., rall., accel.
• Avoid notation or text collisions
Examples:
o Bar numbers are not overlapping with other printed information
o “sim.” is not bumping into the staff or is too far from the relevant note(s)
• Single odd meter bars with rests, not within a consolidated rest, should show the way the bar will be
conducted
Examples:
o in 5/4, clarify with rests if the rhythmic division is 2+3 or 3+2
o in 7/8, clarify with rests if the rhythmic division is 2+2+3 or 3+2+2
• Music should be “phrased, following the melodic phrasing – this is typically between 4 and 8
measures long and not be squeezed on the page
• Clearly label all instrument and accessory changes, i.e. “To Triangle”, “With Straight Mute”
• Instruments should be abbreviated in left margin of each page beginning on page 2
• Instrument listing order (commonly used instruments) in the score (a.k.a. Score Order):
§ Piccolo § Timpani
§ Flute § Mallet instruments in alphabetical order, i.e.
§ Alto Flute in G Chimes, Crotales, Glockenspiel OR Percussion 1
§ Oboe § Other percussion instruments in alphabetical order,
§ English Horn i.e. Bass Drum, Crash Cymbals, Gong, Snare Drum,
§ Clarinet in Bb Tambourine OR Percussion 2
§ Clarinet in A § Celesta
§ Bass Clarinet in Bb § Organ
§ Bassoon § Piano
§ Contrabassoon § Harp
§ Horn in F § Synthesizer
§ Trumpet in C § Harpsichord
§ Trumpet in Bb § Violin 1
§ Flugelhorn in Bb § Violin 2
§ Tenor Trombone § Viola
§ Bass Trombone § Cello
§ Wagner Tuba in Bb (a.k.a. Tuben) § Double Bass